(Business of Marriage, #1)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1817)
“What am I to him? A contract? A convenient solution?”
Laura Townsend’s plan to reclaim her family’s merchandise backfires when she creeps into moneylender Philip Rathbone’s house and threatens him with a pistol, only to find him reclining naked in his bath!
The last thing she expects is to see this guarded widower on her doorstep a couple of days later armed with a very surprising proposal. A marriage of convenience may be Laura’s chance to reclaim her future, but she won’t settle for anything less than true passion. Can she hope to find it in Philip’s arms?
I enjoyed this first book in Georgie Lee’s “Business of Marriage” series. It features a marriage of convenience but refreshingly both the hero and heroine are ordinary working people – not a title in sight.
Following the death of her father, Laura Townsend and her mother find themselves in the care of her Uncle Robert who has inherited her father’s flourishing draper business. However, he has borrowed money from moneylender Philip Rathbone to pay off his large gambling debts, using the business’s assets as collateral. When he defaults on the loan, having gambled the money away, Philip seizes the goods leaving Laura and her mother penniless and fearful for their future. Laura boldly confronts Mr Townsend, hoping to persuade him to consider her business proposal, but he flatly refuses. So it is with surprise that she finds him on her doorstep the next morning with a startling proposal of his own!
Widower Philip is in need of a wife, not only to look after his baby son and provide guidance to his thirteen-year-old sister but also learn and help him run his business. In Laura, he recognises all the qualities he is looking for, strength of character, courage and intelligence and proposes a marriage of convenience. Despite her misgivings about his cold, business-like proposal, Laura is realistic enough to appreciate that it offers security for her mother and herself, which is far preferable to the alternative…a life on the streets of Seven Dials.
Their situation was already growing desperate and she knew what happened to desperate women in Seven Dials.
I enjoyed how the relationship develops between Philip and Laura. Philip loved his first wife but, because she was frail, he blames himself for her death in childbirth. The only way he can cope with the terrible pain is to shut himself off from his emotions. He is attracted to Laura and I love how he wants to protect her and make her happy, but he is unwilling to surrender his heart, fearing he could never face that sort of loss again.
Laura demanded his respect and affection and he would give it, but he would not surrender his heart, He couldn’t.
Laura soon discovers that Philip is not the cold, unfeeling man she thought but a man who loves his son and his sister, Jane. The scene where she watches Philip soothing his little son is so touching.
The boy sniffed, his eyes growing heavy as his father continued to rock him and stroke his little back. Soon the child’s stuffy-nosed breaths gave way to steady quiet snores.
Laura’s insecurities sometimes lead her to mistrust Philip but I like how she is willing to admit to her mistakes. I also admire her determination to fight for a loving marriage and I enjoyed watching Philip’s defenses slowly crumbling. However, his sudden about turn following dramatic events towards the end of book does seem like an obstacle too far.
The secondary characters all extra interest to the story, especially Philip’s sister, Jane, Laura’s mother and Philip’s friend, Justin, whose story is told in A Too Convenient Marriage. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Mr Charton, one of Philip’s associates, is trying to talk about some of the rather “unusual” collateral they have inspected, only to have his wife drag him away.
For lovers of Epilogues like me, I am pleased to say that Ms Lee provides one that will be leave you with a nice warm glow.
MY VERDICT: An extremely enjoyable” marriage of convenience” story.
REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read March 2016
Business of Marriage series (click on the book covers for more information):
**My sincere thanks to Georgie Lee for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review**